Episode 5 of Loki, Journey Into Mystery, made its case for being not only the strongest episode of this series so far, but also potentially the best episode of any Marvel Studios Disney Plus series to date. A collection of “moments” came together to make something that felt strange and uncomfortable but still left you feeling hopeful that our Variants can follow the lead of Richard E. Grant’s Loki (what an absolute blast he seemed to be having in this role!) and the advice of Mobius and find a way to change. And in the episode’s final minutes, it sure seems like that’s what they’ve done. Loki gives a long-overdue embrace to his best bro, Mobius, and willingly takes Sylvie’s hand and lets her lead the way in an effort to reveal who the big bad behind the TVA truly is by enchanting Alioth. It seems like there are 2 prevailing hypotheses among fans as to who the man in the castle is going turn out to be: a version of Kang the Conqueror or a sort of old man version of Loki. Let’s lay out the evidence to support those claims and see how it goes.
It’s a show named Loki telling a story about Variants of Loki, so it’s no surprise that fans have come to expect to find another version of the character behind the curtain of the TVA. Today’s episode probably brought us to a total of maybe 15-20 different Variants that we’ve seen on screen but fans are holding tight to the idea that we might just see one more in next week’s final episode. But does it make sense for another Loki to be pulling the strings and protecting the Sacred Timeline? Streamlining things to avoid chaos seems like most un-Loki thing I can imagine but we did just see a few Lokis undergo some pretty cathartic moments in Episode 5 (albeit as a result of a bunch of Lokis doing very Loki things), so maybe what we’re dealing with here is another Loki (a superior version) who has done it all and seen it all and made his way through the wasteland, built himself a fancy castle, wrangled up Alioth and created the TVA to keep other Lokis from becoming successful by pruning them from the timeline. If that were the case, would that superior Loki really want to risk bringing all those Variants that close to his castle? Would that be in his best interests? As Grant’s Loki said, Lokis are survivors so, as a Loki, superior Loki would know this about Lokis and might not want to risk it.
If we’re being objective, there really isn’t any other evidence to support the idea that we’ll see another version of Loki inside the castle. None of the bread crumbs, save the fact that the series is titled Loki give us reason to believe that another Variant is behind this. Additionally, the God of Mischief becoming the shepherd of the Sacred Timeline really doesn’t jibe with the what Loki is all about. It seems like letting all the other Lokis do their thing and cause more chaos would leave him more secure in hanging out in his castle and the end of time.
Kang, or some version of him
Before the show even debuted, rumors indicated Loki might feature a potential appearance from Kang. Jonathan Majors was cast as the Master of Men and set to appear in Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, but the fact that he was cast 10 months before the start of production on that film but while production on Loki (which filmed under an LLC titled Limbo Productions) really backed up those rumors. Prior to the show’s release, Disney revealed that Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s character to be Ravonna Renslyaer, a Marvel Comics character with DEEP ties to Kang that have extended into other mediums such as Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 video game. And while today’s episode certainly seemed to indicate that Ravonna has not been in on the con and not in league with whomever is running it, that actually helps make a stronger case for it to be Kang because their relationship started off on very rocky ground after Kang conquered her father’s empire. It’s unclear what’s truly up with Ravonna (is she a Variant that many Kangs have fallen in love with?) but that’s not the point of this exercise. Her presence here, running the TVA in a place outside of time and space, helps steer things towards Kang being the man in the castle.
Journey Into Mystery introduced fans to Alioth, described as the guard dog to the man in the castle. Alioth doesn’t have anywhere near as long and twisted of a history in the comics as Kang does, but what history does have is closely tied to Kang. We saw Alioth can basically destroy any and everything it touches, which fits with its comic book counterpart, which originated in Temporal Limbo (there’s that word again), a location RULED by Kang. So we have a little bit of an original take on the character here, but it is another character which leads us down a road that ends with Kang standing there, hands on his hips, waving hello like Forrest Gump.
Alioth’s job is to go around and clean up the Void, a wasteland where Variants who have been pruned and the realities they’ve altered go. The principles of the Void are cool because they follow science (neither energy nor matter can be created or destroyed) and so these beings and objects are transported to a new place where the Variants become food for Alioth. But what about the objects? Alioth doesn’t seem to like concrete and thankfully he didn’t eat one of the episode’s biggest Easter eggs and another neon arrow pointing in the direction of Kang: the Qeng Enterprises Tower. Qeng Tower is honestly a pretty obscure reference and the tower itself made only the briefest of appearances in the episode; however, it’s another BIG hint at Kang. In the comics, Qeng Tower came into play 500 years in the future during the 3 issue Avengers: Ultron Forever series. The tower was overseen by the CEO of Qeng Enterprises, Mr. Gryphon, who was just another one of Kang’s alters. As mentioned above, it’s such an obscure reference and passes so quickly but it’s another great reason to thing the O.K. (Original Kangster) is the man in the castle.
A final piece of evidence for the man in the castle being Kang is the castle itself. Kang is nothing if not a modest man and ruled Temporal Limbo from a quaint tri-level named Tenebrae, or Castle Limbo. The version of Kang who lived here went by the name Immortus and spent his days shepherding the timeline by pruning Variants (mostly of himself) to make sure it all ended in peace and tranquility. If that sounds vaguely familiar to you, it means you’ve been paying attention to the previous episodes of Loki where they described that as the job of the TVA.
Once again, if we’re being objective in our analysis of the evidence, we can find all kinds of support for the hypothesis that Kang, or one version of him, is going to be revealed as the man in the castle when Episode 6 streams next week. Strongly sourced rumors, Limbo Productions, Ravonna, Alioth, Qeng Tower and Castle Limbo make a much, much stronger case than “didn’t you learn anything from WandaVision.”